View Full Version : 12C to 650S - Perfection is Now More Perfect

01-08-2015, 03:16 PM
After a solid year and 12k miles in my 12C Coupe I've returned it to McLaren Manchester to jump into a 650S Spider, and have put the first 400 miles under my belt.


I knew it would be a little bit 'more' car, but my main interest was to move into a newer car in both the sense of the later model and a car literally with fewer years and miles under its belt to avoid a situation of having a car with crazy high mileage - I have a tendency to do far too many trips in my main car. So for me, it was the newer P1-style looks, the newer age, and the convertible aspect - enough reasons altogether to upgrade.


However, I have to admit after driving 200 miles to McLaren Manchester in the 12C and then 200 miles back home in the 650S, via interesting roads, I didn't realise quite how much 'more' it would offer. The 12C was in my mind effectively the perfect daily supercar; drama from the looks and doors combined with immense performance on tap, yet a car with a big front boot, smooth gearbox, and soft enough to drive all the time.

The 650S has taken that perfect car, and made it 'more perfect'.

My summary is that all across the board there are just small improvements, things that have been refined in the time since my 12C in the #1200s and the 650S in the #4100s. The obvious things are:

- 78Nm more torque. Boy do you feel it pulling harder without having to drop the gears as much. I think the most relevant fact is that you have significantly more power on tap from the early part of the rev range without the need to drop gears whereas before you would have done to a bigger degree.

- 25 more horsepower. Probably on its own this amount wouldn't be noticeable but the overall performance increase is clearly there. 12C was fast, 650S is a veritable weapon. I didn't really take on board quite how much faster it would certainly feel, and probably really be. It's doing the direct comparison on the same day that made it so noticeable.

- Reworked Suspension. I didn't really know too much about this beforehand but it is very clear that the suspension has been reworked and the newer setup is clearly softer. The 12C in Normal mode was already impressive compared to equivalent cars but the 650S rides bumps noticeably better still. I need more time trying through the different modes to think about the comparisons but flicking the left Active Dynamics switch to Sport it definitely lets you get more hairy than 12C did!

- Steering. I absolutely love the tighter ratios of the 650S, you can hold the wheel incredibly solidly and just get a move on, down a tight British countryside road it's seriously rewarding. 12C steering was always very good, and I enjoyed it a lot but 650S just seems again to be slightly better.

- Exhaust sound. Both my 12C and 650S have the Sports exhaust, and I wouldn't have it any other way but there is definitely a difference between the two cars. The 650S's exhaust sound has more 'emotion', I use that word because it's been said to me by McLaren but it's completely and totally true. Upshifts almost seem faster for the sound it makes, blipping straight with a nice little pop, and equally the startup is more aggressive and immediate as it roars into action. I think you have more whoosh from the turbos during driving as well, but I'd like a little bit more of that if it were an option too!

Then it's the countless host of other improvements throughout the car that you can't fail to notice:

- IRIS 2 if you didn't have it before, but I had upgraded my 12C

- Button door handles - I miss swipe but I can see why it's done, this is probably my only negative of 650S!

- Air con displays on the doors have much brighter backlights, they were hard to see on 12C

- Bonnet catch has clearly been improved; my 12C wasn't bad at all in this respect but the 650S is definitely cleaner to close

- My 12C was a '12 so lift system wasn't an option and a few times I seriously badly needed it on my travels in the last year. 650S absolutely has to have it being lower than 12C to start, but with it you can raise the car to a much better state and clear anything; I think it's 6cms up at the front and 4.8cms at the back.

Visually I am completely smitten by the front end of the 650S, it just looks lower and wider and all around more aggressive. The rear I still like because it comes from that very car we liked before, just with more detail from the two-level effect and central carbon fibre section, and the heat plate under the exhaust tips. I'm without doubt that the Coupe had a much cleaner look to it than the Spider does but you can't beat the element of having the open roof. For the last year I really needed the additional luggage space and therefore the parcel shelf that the convertible eliminates, and obviously it's a significant extra on the cost, but having the option of the rear window down alone is worth every part of it.

The elephant in the room, Mantis Green! Now, I knew going for this would be considered by many a brave move but I LOVE IT. No joke, I am so well and truly happy with this colour, it's exactly what a car like this should be. I was expecting some negativity regarding it but so far it has all been praise, the contrast with all the carbon components including mirrors, side vents, and airbrake seems to just work so well. The only thing I think my car needs is the wheels to be black rather than the diamond cut, which is a shame but would pull it together well.

To conclude: I could not be more happy, McLaren have taken the already awesome 12C and somehow, I don't know exactly how, they've made it a whole notch better. No one thing on its own is really something to phone home about but the package overall is a true step up.

Well done McLaren, well done.


Image credits: Alex Penfold Photography (https://www.facebook.com/AlexPenfoldPhotography)

01-10-2015, 01:14 PM
That colour would look silly on any other car, but it does look good on the 650S.

nice car - enjoy.

01-10-2015, 01:52 PM
At first I wasn't a fan of the colour but I must say I do like it haha, good choice Tim!

01-11-2015, 04:19 AM
That colour would look silly on any other car, but it does look good on the 650S.

nice car - enjoy.It also looks nice on the Huracan but except these too, you are right :)